Thursday, August 22, 2013

Julie's Review: Off the Menu

Summary: As the executive culinary assistant to celebrity Chicago chef Patrick Conlon, Alana Ostermann works behind the scenes—and that’s just the way she likes it. But with developing recipes for Patrick’s cookbooks, training his sous chefs, picking out the perfect birthday gifts for his ex-mother-in-law, and dealing with the fallout from his romantic escapades, she barely has a personal life, much less time to spend with her combo platter of a mutt, Dumpling. Then a fluke online connection brings her RJ, a transplant from Tennessee, who adds some Southern spice to her life. Suddenly Alana’s priorities shift, and Patrick—and Dumpling—find themselves facing a rival for her time and affection. With RJ in the mix, and some serious decisions to make about her personal and professional future, Alana must discover the perfect balance of work and play, money and meaning, to bring it all to the table—one delicious dish at a time…

Review:  Don't read this book when you are even the slightest bit hungry. Ok, even if you aren't hungry you will be while reading this novel. Seriously when I read food lit, it makes me salivate. Off the Menu is a cute book about being comfortable with yourself and where you are in your life, knowing that the rest will come when the time is right.

Alana Ostermann is a executive culinary assistant to one of the most popular restaurateurs and celebrity chefs around, Patrick Colon. It pretty much means she's at his beck and call, his "Girl Tuesday". She's made a comfortable life of her own and enjoys her job, her friends and her family. Of course when you aren't looking for it, you fall in love. This is what happens with Alana when she meets the sweet and charming, RJ.

What Ms. Ballis does wonderfully is that Alana doesn't change who she is. It's either take her or leave her. She's turning 40 and wants a partner that she can accept/love and who does the same of her. RJ full-fills this for her. One thing that I wanted a little more of was tension or an obstacle for them to overcome. Everything just went so smoothly for them. I'm not saying a plot device but relationships have bumps, so maybe a more realistic view. All RJ and Alana had was a brief hiccup. At times it was a bit too saccharine for my taste but I dealt with it.

I loved Alana's crazy big family, her friends and Patrick. I can only imagine how demanding it is to be an assistant to one of those tv chefs. Patrick for all of his faults, there are many, does have a heart of gold.

I have Good Enough to Eat on my shelves and I look forward to reading it since the character from that is in Off the Menu. For those who love food-lit, this one will make you want to become a die-hard foodie.

Final Take: 3.75/5



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